Today is singer/ songwriter Steve Earle’s birthday. He was born on this day in 1955.
Earlier this month Steve Earle and his band the Dukes released a new album J.T. in tribute to Steve Earle’s late son, Justin Townes Earle.
J.T. released January 4, 2021 on what would have been Justin Townes Earle’s 39th birthday. The album covers 10 songs from the Justin Townes Earl catalog, and one new song by Steve Earle, “Last Words,” that he wrote in tribute to his late son.
Steve Earle has released tribute albums in the past. Tributes to Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark who were his friends and mentors through his earliest days in music. J.T. was different. Not only was he reliving the pain of losing his son and fellow band member, he began working on the album only months after his son’s death.
Townes was released in 2009, it won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
Guy released in 2019, the album is a reminder of the greatness of the words and wisdom of the Great Guy Clark.
Justin Townes Earle died alone in his Nashville apartment of what is reportedly an accidental drug overdose August 23, 2020.
J.T.’s middle name Townes was given to him by his father and yes, he is affectionately named for the late Townes Van Zandt. In my opinion Justin Townes music is very similar to the darkness of Townes.
Justin Townes Earle began writing at an early age. He spent some time on the road with his father’s band the Dukes and was also part of the bluegrass band the Swindlers and of the rock band the Distributors. He created his own style of music a mixture of folk, blues, and country.
From his website, www.justintownesearle.com, Justin Earle says this of the sound:
“I see it the same way that Gram Parsons did,” he says. “There’s this idea of moving forward and playing with newer sounds and different modes, but at the same time making sure you keep one foot firmly planted in the past as you feel out the future. I think it’s really important to leave a trail, you know? Put down some breadcrumbs behind you.”
Besides Justin Townes Earle’s debut album, Yuma, He released eight full-length albums. In 2009, Justin was recognized with an Americana Music Award for Emerging Artist of the Year. In 2011 he received Song of the Year for “Harlem River Blues“.
“All my records have been written to be records, rather than writing a group of songs and seeing if they fit together.”Justin Townes Earle
When this old world seems to be spinning out of control, I am grateful that I have music to fall back on. Life is a little smoother with artists like Steve and Justin Townes Earle streaming music to my ears. Though J.T. may not be here in the physical earth, his spirit and his music will live on for many moons to come.
You made me laugh, you made me cry
You showed me truth, you told me lies
You tore my heart apart and then
You brought me back the piece again
Now I don’t know what I’ll do
Until the day I follow you
Through the darkness to the light
‘Cause I loved you for all your life
– Steve Earle “Last Words“
I cannot say it any better about some of my favorite musicians,